After a long layoff and an emotional week, the Washington Capitals took their undefeated record on the road. Playing against an Edmonton Oilers team with no real dreams of the playoffs, with the reigning Presidents' Trophy winners and Western Conference Champs up next, this looked to be a perfect trap game. And, like clockwork, the Caps ended up in a nail biter with a team that just doesn't stack up on paper. You'd think for the game to even be close, much less a loss for the Caps, there'd have to be plenty of awful performances. And tonight there were. Luckily for the Caps, none of those awful performances were wearing red, white, and blue. You knew they'd lose eventually, but it still stings to go down like this.
Ten more notes on the game:
- Credit where it's due, Nikolai Khabibulin had a fantastic game. If there was one Oiler that outplayed anyone on the Caps, it was Khabibulin. The Caps dominated the game at even strength but they just couldn't get more than one puck past the Oiler netminder. When they did, it hit iron. Hey, it happens. At least this one came in October.
- The Caps came out of the gates on fire, something that may not have been expected by some of the fans, but it was nonetheless great to see. No layover hangover, no playing down to the competition, just imposing their will. At the end of the day the Caps had a 28-12 advantage in shots on goal at even strength. We'll take more of that, please.
- The last time John Carlson shared the ice with Taylor Hall he was busy shutting down the future prodigy and dashing the dreams of a nation. Well, tonight Hall had the goal and the victory, but when the game was at evens Carlson repeated his shutdown performance. And something tells me Carlson wouldn't trade the victories for anything.
- Speaking of Hall, the young kids in Edmonton are all the rage, and tonight they showed why. Given numerous power play opportunities they showed off their incredible talent. Kids in the Hall is an apt nickname, I just wonder which one is The Eradicator.
- If there was one area the Caps needed improvement, it was the breakout. While it seems to be in vogue these days to pretend Mike Green isn't the best offensive defenseman in the game, and the best the Caps have on D, his absence was noticeable tonight. Get better, Green.
- If there is a second nitpick, it's that the Caps got a little too cute at the end of the game. There was a bit of over-passing looking for the perfect shot. Sometimes you just gotta let it rip.
- The Capitals had a bunch of western Canadian boys returning to old stomping grounds. The only one that may have had a halfway happy return was Karl Alzner, and he was about 500 miles too far north for his friends and family. His first goal of the season, the manliest undeserved-penalty you'll ever see, and a helping hand in shutting down The Kids in the Hall? That's a good night. I suspect he's not reveling, though.
- As we mentioned earlier today, Roman Hamrlik scored a goal and had an assist the day after Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was born. I wish I had more to say about Rom Ham, can't wait for him to join the party. It's not a party without Rom Ham.
- Corey Potter has seemingly come out of nowhere to play a significant role on... an actual NHL team. It's always nice to see hard work and perseverance pay off. Come back to America, wontcha.
- Andy Sutton, you're still a [character of dubious quality]. I don't need to be an expert to know that.
The Caps have won a couple games this year that they may not have deserved to win, chalk up tonight to some cosmic balancing by the Hockey Gods. Time to move on and get ready to play the Vancouver Canucks. Maybe the Caps can get more than 1 goal, seeing as the Canucks are letting in nearly double the goals of the Oilers this year. No, I'm not drunk. That's true. The Caps no doubt want a chance to remove the sting of defeat, and if they come out Saturday like they did tonight, they'll have a great chance at doing just that.